Gulkam Canyon, Chimgan Mountains
Gulkam Canyon is a stunning natural sight in one of the gorges of the Greater Chimgan Mountains. It was created when, over a period of a million years, the waters of a small mountain river, Gulkamsay, carved a long, narrow canyon with cliffs reaching up hundreds of feet. The canyon walls are so high that the sun only reaches the bottom of canyon at midday.
This beautiful place is visited regularly by lovers of mountain scenery and adventure. Some visitors stay overnight near the entrance to the canyon, but a one-day tour from Tashkent is also possible.
The path through the canyon starts between Chimgan village and the tourist camp (called Turbaza by locals), before continuing towards the Pesochniy (Sandy) Pass (1,820m), which offers a magnificent view of the Chimgan Mountains. It then descends to the gorge of the Gulkamsay River. This section of the route can be done in two hours and requires a reasonable level of physical fitness and stamina.
From its entrance, Gulkam Canyon may not look that exciting, with only a small river between two cliffs. But as you continue into the canyon you’ll come to a large boulder from which you can see a beautiful 10m-high waterfall. You can only reach the bottom of the waterfall from the ledge of the cliff on the left and will need to use a rope unless you’re skilled at rock climbing.
After climbing down an almost vertical slope you’ll find several pools. To avoid getting wet, there is a safety railing, and visitors walk along the rocks and ledges. Although this part of the route is quite short, it will be one of the highlights of your visit.
Navigating the last part with the help of the rope, you’ll see on the rock a memorial that reminds visitors that mountains do not forgive mistakes. In 2006, a mudflow tragically trapped and killed several tourists when they decided to visit the canyon during a season of heavy rains. Therefore, if you’re planning to visit the canyon, you should check the weather forecast first.
After this extreme part, the Gulkam Canyon stretches further for several hundred metres before the cliffs diverge. At this point, you’ll find yourself among a few small hills with the Charvak Reservoir behind them.
Walking the full route through the Gulkam Canyon is, for many people, an exciting adventure. However, for people who prefer a less challenging route there is an alternative that still allows you to see some of the canyon’s highlights.
Whichever route you choose, we have no doubt that you’ll enjoy the trip!